The final ACC/Big Ten Challenge continues tonight with an additional six games scattered across ESPN. Let’s take a look at the upcoming action.
Game of the Night
- Time/TV: 9:30 PM ET ESPN
In the marquee game tonight Virginia heads to Ann Arbor to try to improve to 6-0. The third ranked Cavaliers are coming off of wins against Baylor and Illinois and tonight’s road trip could be the only thing stopping a potential top two showdown with Houston in a couple weeks.
Michigan is 5-1 but they’ve been a bit all over the place, getting blown out by 25 to Arizona State, almost losing to Eastern Michigan and Ohio and then struggling against a winless Jackson State.
The Wolverines are anchored inside by Hunter Dickinson, who is averaging 18.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. Jett Howard is also averaging 15.2 points per game and hitting 43.9% from three while no one else is averaging double figures. Michigan is shooting only 31.8% from three and desperately needs someone to step up beyond Dickinson and Howard. Defensively the Wolverines have also underwhelmed, barely ranking inside the top 100.
Their offense will need to make the most of their opportunities going up against a Virginia team that is 362th (outside of 363 teams) in tempo ratings. Virginia may run a slow offense, but they’re fifth in adjusted offensive efficiency ratings and 15th in defensive efficiency.
Michigan probably has the best player on the court in Dickinson, but their shooting struggles are problematic against a Virginia team that limits scoring opportunities. On paper this should be Virginia pretty easily, but with the game taking place in Ann Arbor and Michigan having a knack for winning games of the sort, look for a surprising upset tonight for the team up north.
- Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET ESPN2
In the opening slate of games Louisville will look for their first win against Maryland tonight. The Cardinals are 0-6 and have a KenPom rating of 171st with an adjusted offensive efficiency rating putting them at 227th in the nation. They started the season off with three single point losses to Bellarmine, Wright State and Appalachian State before getting blown out by Arkansas (26), Texas Tech (32) and Cincinnati (19).
Maryland is 6-0 but haven’t really faced anyone that good this year, though that won’t change until this weekend when they face Illinois. Louisville has been a hot mess so far and there’s little reason to think that’ll change much tonight.
- Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET ESPNU
Penn State has quietly gone 6-1 and outside of a lone two point loss to Virginia Tech, they’ve looked pretty good. The Nittany Lions have shot the ball relatively well, hitting 48% of their field goals and 42.2% of their three pointers even though they run one of the slowest offenses in the nation. Tonight they’ll face a less efficient and equally as plodding offense in Clemson.
Clemson has dropped two games so far this season by a combined five points, losing to South Carolina and Iowa. Chase Hunter is off to a hot start with 16.6 points per game and shooting 60% from three (on 30 attempts in 7 games) while forward Hunter Tyson is putting up 12.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.
This would be a good win for Penn State if they can pick it up while it would be another game Clemson needs to avoid losing. With tonight’s game taking place in South Carolina that should give the Tigers a slight advantage.
- Time/TV: 7:30 PM ET ESPN
It’s been a rough start to the season for Syracuse with early season losses to Colgate, St. John’s and Bryant. The Orange run one of the slowest tempos in the country and also struggle from the perimeter, shooting 33% from deep. The slow pace and not particularly great offense will be at odds with an Illinois offense that runs one of the quickest offenses in the country.
The Illini slipped up against Virginia but other then that they’ve been perfect, including a win over UCLA. Terrence Shannon Jr. is averaging more than 20 points per game while shooting 47.1% from three and outside of being somewhat turnover prone, the Illini should have enough offensive firepower to pick up another win.
- Time/TV: 9:00 PM ET ESPN2
Georgia Tech will look to bounce back from a 1-2 stretch last week that included losses to Utah and Marquette. The Yellow Jackets are only shooting 42% from the field, 29.7% from three and 68.2% from the line. While three players are averaging double figures, Dallan Coleman’s 11.3 points per game leads the team in scoring. The offensive struggles loom large as they head north to Iowa.
Iowa’s defensive struggles under Fran McCaffery are well detailed but offensively his team scores points. They did struggle heavily against TCU but the Horned Frogs are a better team than Georgia Tech. Kris Murray has made a solid leap this year like many expected and is averaging 19.3 points and 9 rebounds per game while five players are averaging at least 9 points per game.
The Hawkeyes offense is ranked 7th in the KenPom efficiency ratings. Georgia Tech is ranked 189th. Iowa’s offense will be more than enough to get past Georgia Tech.
- Time/TV: 9:00 PM ET ESPNU
Things have been interesting so far this year for Wisconsin. On one hand they’re a solid 5-1 with wins over USC, Stanford and Dayton while only losing to Kansas by a single point in overtime. On the other hand their offense has been anemic, they scored a whopping 43 points against Dayton and have only surpassed 70 points once. Their offensive struggles aren’t a massive surprise when you realize they’re shooting 37.5% from the field and rank 324th in adjusted tempo. Their defense, however, is just outside of the top ten per KenPom.
Their opponent tonight is a Wake Forest that has a so-so offense and a slightly worse so-so defense. Their 6-1 start includes an overtime loss to Loyola Marymount, an overtime win against Utah Valley and not exactly wowing anyone in a good number of their wins. Tyree Appleby paces the Deacons with 17.9 points and 5.6 assists per game while shooting 50% from the field.
Wisconsin’s offensive ineptitude with a Wake Forest program that can score should lead this to be an entertaining game. The Badgers defense will likely be the deciding factor.